07.08.2016 - 07.08.2016
Day two of my Olympic adventure here in Rio!
Another early morning as I had to make my way to the Barra Olympic Park by 9am for fencing. I had to take the Metro Line 4, which is brand new (it opened to the public a week ago and it was built for the Olympics – nothing like cutting it down to the wire!). After taking the metro, I had to transfer to the BRT bus; thankfully they had an express bus from the metro station to the Olympic Park. All told the transit time was just under 90 minutes. After arriving at the Park, I walked across the makeshift walkway they had built for the Games: basically scaffolding with platforms to walk on.
Security to get into the Park was rather easy and quick, though it helped that I arrived so early in the morning. The Park is HUGE with multiple venues spaced all around. I was truly impressed by what the Brazilians were able to pull off with the Park.
My first event of the day was men’s fencing. My seat was over to the far side of the venue and provided a decent view of one match, while the others were too far to see much. I initially found the sport difficult to follow as I knew nothing about it, but it didn’t take long to catch on. The match closest two me features a Brazilian and the crowd was going crazy each time he scored a point.
I saw several matches during the 2 hours I spent watching fencing. Towards the end I got to see Germany play against France! I had worn my new “Deutschland” t-shirt today and it was great to be able to support Germany. The match was incredibly intense: one side would be up a few points and the other would close the gap. Thankfully Germany prevailed!
The final match up that I saw was Russia vs USA. There was a very large crowd cheering on the Russian side and a decent amount of American fans. Several times throughout the match the fans would get into shouting competitions: who could chant “U-S-A” or “RO-SI-YA” the loudest. Despite some serious effort by the Americans, the Russians won.
One funny moment happened when an American fan yelled out “Just the tip!” to encourage the US fencer.
After I left fencing, I had to make my way over to another venue park, the Riocentro Park, for table tennis. The park was about a 30-minute walk away, again along the makeshift walkway. The views of the city were rather beautiful. Then the smell hit me. There was a waterway running along the road and… the smell was beyond describing. It reeked of shit. Literally, like shit. It was like 1,000 people all just took a crap in the water and left it there. To top it all off, the breeze was blowing the smell toward the walkway! Joy!
The Riocentro Park was a smaller area, but still quite nice. There was a covered area that had several interactive exhibits: weightlifting, badminton, volleyball, etc. I decided to grab a bite to eat along with a beer. All of the beers at the Games are sold in yellow commemorative cups; you get to pick out the cup you want as well. I’ve managed to collect three cups: fencing, archery, artistic gymnastics (all events I saw). Today’s lunch was a chicken sandwich with cheese which was rather good – far better than the hamburger I had yesterday.
Table tennis was inside a massive arena, but it only utilized part of the building. This event had general admission in your assigned section; I managed to get a good seat to see 2 of the 4 matches that would be played simultaneously.
Up first were the women and there were several very good players, including one from North Korea! She was playing further away and I couldn’t get a great shot of their match, but it was fun to watch. She managed to beat her competitor.
The other major match that was going on was between Russia and Belarus. It was a very intense, heated match up and Belarus managed to win – and the crowd went crazy! Each time a match finished the players would walk around the arena and many of them would stop to say hello to fans.
Next it was time for the men to play. I wasn’t able to stay very long and watch them too much because I had to make it back to the Olympic Park for my final event. However, I did get to see Russia square off against Ukraine. The Russian player was insanely tall and looked somewhat silly hunched over the table as he played.
I made my way back to the Barra Olympic Park, again walking through the shit-smelling walkway. Security to get in took a little longer this time because the crowd had grown, but it was still a breeze. I arrived in plenty of time and decided to walk around some. I found this massive plaza with people gathered around, eating food from the many stands nearby. The crowd was huge!
Clouds started to roll in and I feared that it would start to rain, so I made my way over to the venue for gymnastics. En route I grabbed another beer (grabbing the fencing cup this time!). When I arrived at the venue they were keeping us in the queue to get in, so I sat down and enjoyed my beer. It started to sprinkle a little bit, but it never actually rained.
Once they finally scanned our tickets and let us move on, we were herded together outside the venue (but inside the ticket area) and waited for an additional 20 minutes or so; the crowd was getting very impatient, waiting to get in. We were finally let inside about 30 minutes before the event began. My seats were on the third level, almost in the nose-bleed seats. However, this game me a great view of the entire venue! They had the tumble mat, uneven bars, balance beam, and the vault setup.
The women performed tonight, the highlight being Team USA! The Netherlands also had a full team performing. There were also several individuals who were from countries who couldn’t send a full team (Egypt, Trinidad and Tobago, Iceland, Venezuela). Each group of women would start at one station, have the entire team perform there, and then they would rotate around. Team USA started tumbling, then did the vault, the uneven bars, and finished on the balance beam. The crowd went crazy each time an American did well – it was nice to hear USA being cheered for rather than against.
Team USA dominated the event and brought the team to first place. This was the quarterfinals and there was still another round of gymnastics to go before it would be known who would move on.
The trip back to the hostel was smooth; the crowds were crazy, but it went quick enough. The walk to the hostel from the metro station, while only taking 5 minutes, was still nerve racking because it is dark and not well lit.
Right now, as I write this, a group of early 20-something Australians are playing a drinking game, being quite loud and very obnoxious. They bought 23 beers (by my last count, though the recycling bin is clearly full of beers they’ve already had).
One of the guys drinking with them is an American from Colorado! He grew up in Arvada. His name is Chad and he came over to chat for a bit, which was cool. He works on cellular towers around the world and will be heading to some island in the Indian Ocean next month for work.